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Cherner Task Chair

Cherner Task Chair
By Norman Cherner, The Cherner Chair Company
Located in Berkeley, CA
The 1958 molded plywood task chair by Norman Cherner is now available to a new generation of furniture collectors. A strong, lightweight and graceful addition to the home or office. ...
Category

20th Century American Mid-Century Modern Chairs

Materials

Walnut

  • Cherner Task Chair
  • Cherner Task Chair
  • Cherner Task Chair
  • Cherner Task Chair
H 30.5 in. W 22.5 in. D 22.5 in.
Cherner Task Chair
By Norman Cherner, The Cherner Chair Company
Located in Berkeley, CA
The 1958 molded plywood task chair by Norman Cherner is now available to a new generation of furniture collectors. A strong, lightweight and graceful addition to the home or office. ...
Category

20th Century American Mid-Century Modern Chairs

Materials

Walnut

  • Cherner Task Chair
  • Cherner Task Chair
  • Cherner Task Chair
  • Cherner Task Chair
H 30.5 in. W 22.5 in. D 22.5 in.
Cherner Task Chair with Arms
By Norman Cherner, The Cherner Chair Company
Located in Berkeley, CA
The 1958 molded plywood task chair by Norman Cherner is now available to a new generation of furniture collectors. A strong, lightweight and graceful addition to the home or office. ...
Category

20th Century American Mid-Century Modern Chairs

Materials

Walnut

  • Cherner Task Chair with Arms
  • Cherner Task Chair with Arms
  • Cherner Task Chair with Arms
  • Cherner Task Chair with Arms
H 30.5 in. W 22.5 in. D 22.5 in.

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Norman Cherner Biography and Important Works

Norman Cherner was an influential designer who explored postwar technological innovations and how to incorporate them into furniture production and architecture. And while its history is complicated, his Cherner chair is one of the most successful examples of mid-century modern molded plywood seating.

Born in New York City, Cherner was an architect and a prolific designer who taught at Columbia University’s Teachers College. An enthusiast of the Bauhaus, he gave lectures in the late 1940s on the principles of the legendary German design school at the Museum of Modern Art.

Cherner was fascinated with the concept of cost-efficient design, and this extended into his pioneering ideas for prefabricated housing. His philosophy was that a modular home should be a complete design concept that included economical furniture and lighting. He published several DIY books, such as How to Build a House for $6,000. Cherner caught the interest of a housing cooperative in upstate New York and was contracted to design and oversee the construction of prefabricated housing in the town of Ramapo. The U.S. Department of Housing assembled a pre-built Cherner home for exhibition in Vienna.

But he is best known for his chair.

In the 1950s, one of George Nelson’s designers, John F. Pile, created the Pretzel chair. It had structural problems and proved too costly to make at Herman Miller, where Nelson was director of design. Production was subcontracted to Massachusetts company Plycraft, but the agreement didn’t last long owing to a dispute between the furniture manufacturers. Based on a recommendation from Nelson, Plycraft sought out Cherner to redesign the chair so that it would be durable and affordable to produce.

Cherner submitted his redesign only to be told that Plycraft had shelved the project. However, Plycraft secretly began producing what would become the Cherner chair under a different name — and Cherner later stumbled across his seat in New York. Cherner sued Plycraft and won. The chair became instantly popular after being featured in a Norman Rockwell illustration for a Saturday Evening Post cover in September of 1961.

Other noteworthy Cherner designs include his Konwiser furniture line, Multiflex storage units and tube lighting. The Museum of Modern Art praised his Konwiser collection as “some of the most progressive furniture designs available to the American public.”

In 1972, Plycraft discontinued production of his chair, and Cherner died in 1987. In 1999, his two sons founded the Cherner Chair Company and began making furniture based on their father's original designs for armchairs, chairs — including the Cherner chair — tables and credenzas.

Find vintage Norman Cherner furniture on 1stDibs today.

A Close Look at mid-century-modern Furniture

Organically shaped, clean-lined and elegantly simple are three terms that well describe vintage mid-century modern American furniture. The style, which emerged primarily in the years following World War II, is characterized by pieces that were conceived and made in an energetic, optimistic spirit by creators who believed that good design was an essential part of good living.

Postwar American architects and designers were animated by new ideas and new technology. The lean, functionalist “International Style” architecture of Le Corbusier and Bauhaus eminences such as Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Walter Gropius had been promoted in the United States during the ’30s by Philip Johnson and others. New building techniques, such as “post-and-beam” construction, allowed the International-style schemes to be realized on a small scale, in open-plan houses with long walls of glass.

Materials developed for wartime use became available for domestic goods and were incorporated into mid-century modern furniture designs. Charles and Ray Eames and Eero Saarinen, who had experimented extensively with molded plywood, eagerly embraced fiberglass for, respectively, pieces such as the La Chaise and the Womb chair. George Nelson and his design team created Bubble lamp shades using a new translucent polymer skin. Harry Bertoia and Isamu Noguchi devised chairs and tables built of wire mesh and wire struts. Materials were re-purposed: the Danish-born designer Jens Risom created a line of chairs that used surplus parachute straps for webbed seats and backrests. The Risom lounge chair was among the first pieces of furniture commissioned and produced by legendary manufacturer Knoll, a chief influence in the rise of modern design in the United States thanks to the work of Florence Knoll, the pioneering architect and designer who made the firm a leader in its field.

As the demand for casual, uncluttered furnishings grew, more mid-century designers caught the spirit.

Classically-oriented creators such as Edward Wormley, house designer for Dunbar Inc., offered such pieces as the sinuous Listen to Me chaise; the British expatriate T.H. Robsjohn-Gibbings switched gears, creating items such as the tiered, biomorphic Mesa table. There were Young Turks such as Paul McCobb — who designed holistic groups of sleek, blonde-wood furniture — and Milo Baughman, who espoused a West Coast aesthetic in lushly upholstered chairs and sofas with angular steel frames.

As the collection of vintage mid-century modern chairs, dressers, coffee tables and other furniture on 1stDibs demonstrates, this period saw one of the most delightful and dramatic flowerings of creativity in design history.

Finding the Right Chairs for You

Chairs are an indispensable component of your home and office. Can you imagine your life without the vintage, new or antique chairs you love?

With the exception of rocking chairs, the majority of the seating in our homes today — antique and vintage Windsor chairs, chaise longues, wingback chairs — originated in either England or France. Art Nouveau chairs, the style of which also originated in those regions, embraced the inherent magnificence of the natural world with decorative flourishes and refined designs that blended both curved and geometric contour lines. While craftsmanship and styles have evolved in the past century, chairs have had a singular significance in our lives, no matter what your favorite chair looks like.

“The chair is the piece of furniture that is closest to human beings,” said Hans Wegner. The revered Danish cabinetmaker and furniture designer was prolific, having designed nearly 500 chairs over the course of his lifetime. His beloved designs include the Wishbone chair, the wingback Papa Bear chair and many more.

Other designers of Scandinavian modernist chairs introduced new dynamics to this staple with sculptural flowing lines, curvaceous shapes and efficient functionality. The Paimio armchair, Swan chair and Panton chair are vintage works of Finnish and Danish seating that left an indelible mark on the history of good furniture design.

“What works good is better than what looks good, because what works good lasts,” said Ray Eames. 

Visionary polymaths Ray and Charles Eames experimented with bent plywood and fiberglass with the goal of producing affordable furniture for a mass market. Like other celebrated mid-century modern furniture designers of elegant low-profile furnishings — among them Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Finn Juhl — the Eameses considered ergonomic support, durability and cost, all of which should be top of mind when shopping for the perfect chair. The Eameses introduced numerous icons for manufacturer Herman Miller, such as the Eames lounge chair and ottoman, molded plywood dining chairs the DCM and DCW (which can be artfully mismatched around your dining table) and a wealth of other treasured pieces for the home and office.

A good chair anchors us to a place and can become an object of timeless appeal. Take a seat and browse the rich variety of vintage, new and antique chairs on 1stDibs today.